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1,000 Ways To Say Yes By Eugene S. Robinson
Eugene S. Robinson , February 21st, 2013 09:53

Why punching people is like fucking sheep, and other pearls of wisdom from the pen of Eugene S. Robinson

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There's a joke. It happens to be about a man who loves sheep. Like, really loves sheep. And he gets caught, once, loving these sheep. And the joke, while it shaggy dogs it all over the place ends up with the bromide: if you get caught loving sheep, even just once? Well, people will never forget it.

So it goes that once you get known as a puncher-outer, you'll always be known as puncher-outer. Even, and this is important, if you are punching-out with great infrequency.

The scene: a quiet club and in attendance about 120 people. The occasion? A performance of SAL MINEO. Plangent pieces of modern music interspersed with harsh blasts and chilling silences. Thirty-three songs varying in length from 13 seconds to three or four minutes with a lyrical landscape that is loose narrative based on the untimely but perfectly gruesome and Los Angelesesque death of the ambisexual Salvatore Mineo.

During one song section about halfway through the set one guy, let's call him "That Guy", attempts to establish an all-too-human connection to the singer of this two-piece band. Me, in this instance. Jamie Stewart is bent over his keyboard, effects, synths, laptop and playing his heart out. It's a jarringly discordant addition, this peanut gallery commentary on something that was just said. Unwelcome but not unexpected. Certainly not from "That Guy." You see, That Guy is in every town everywhere and his hijinks run the gamut from ice throwing, lit cigarette tossing, scrotum grabbing to the much more subtle yet wildly effective standing at stage front asking for "Freebird".

So being a man of the moment, rather than make believe he doesn't exist like everyone else in attendance including the promoters who know him from other shows/occasions to be That Guy par excellence, I say, "While your input is appreciated, I am thinking now would be a good time to keep your mouth shut."

"You think so, eh?" He is good. Very good. The eternal question/questioning can keep the uninitiated hemmed in for HOURS.

"I do. In fact I think it's a good idea if you're interested in not getting hurt. And I'm not talking about feelings."

"Oh you do, do you?"

"Yes. And one more comment out of you and you may have the occasion to find out."

"Well COME ON then!" In Poker we'd have called this... well, who knows what it would be called but it was a bold gambit. Shooting his whole wad on the outside chance that I'd fold it, and not hold it. But I held it straight through and off the stage. And right up to his face where I asked for what certainly seemed to be the final time

"Are you sure what you want me to do is strike you?"


And even before the letter D had resolved itself he was scratching around on the floor, swimming after his keys, hat, wallet and whatever he had been clutching in his right hand hidden in his pocket. Courtesy of an open-hand slap.

And slurring through half consciousness "No. No violence. I won't fight you."

What was most surprising was his surprise. I stood there for a minute, or less than, and waited to be attacked by his friends until I remember that fundamentally That Guy has no friends. Back to the stage I quoted Nina Simone, "You think this shit is easy? YOU try it." Of course after that utterance she left the stage mid-show but we'd do no such thing as shows, as is their wont, tend to want to go on.

That's when we notice "The Other Guy." In this instance the guy who follows me around from show to show recording the ENTIRE show for reasons largely occult to me but probably having something to do with picking up girls on YouTube.

So, weariness setting in, That Guys always engender a bone-weariness, I try to smear saliva all over his camera lens before saying "you've recorded enough for the night. So, stop now."

"Say 'Please.'"

"Like you said 'please' when you asked me to film tonight?"

"It's a free country!" It should not be a shock to anyone reading that The Other Guy was friends with That Guy.

"It certainly is," and as fast as I could manage it I kicked his phone to the floor and into small and broken pieces.

Now a trembling and enfeebled outrage kicks in and he begins disrobing in the universal signaling of his intent to either take a bath or fight me. Which amuses me so much I start to smile. (Words of caution: when guys who don't like you are happy to see you? Trouble is afoot.)

Finally, the club security shows up and asks him a question with deep philosophical import: "What are you DOING?"

"He wants to fight me so I will fight him!"

They hustle him out of the club, take his phone away, and return him cooled down to the front where I watch him for the remainder of the show. The Other Guy? Well, you don't know WHAT he'll do. Ask Dimebag Darrell. Oh wait. You can't. Because he's dead. SHOT by The Other Guy. Or maybe That Guy.

So the show ends without further event and immediately post-show I am set upon by the members of the audience who have not fled.

"Was That Guy a plant? I mean did you two set that up?"

"No and no."

"So you really headbutted him to the floor?"

"It was an open hand slap. I'm too handsome for headbutts."

"Well we think that was a little uncalled for…"

And so ensued an hour-long conversation about the rightness or relative wrongness of what I had done. They were of the opinion that I should have:

A] talked/joked with him a bit until he quieted down


B] …well in actually fact I have no idea what B was as I was in shock that they thought that anybody should try to reason with That Guy whose sole intention is to fuck your couch.

Back and forth it went eventually settling on the collectively held opinion that I was a creepy douchebag.

"My advice to you ladies is this: next time That Guy shows up at a party at your house and starts off soft with dancing on your kitchen table and then warms up with pulling books from your bookshelf before his piece de resistance, urinating in your house plants, that you remember what you've said here tonight and promise me you'll joke with him about his still naked penis and the urine running into your carpet."

They stared at me and walked off shaking their heads.


Next up: Contract Killing: The Early Years

EUGENE S. ROBINSON is the author of Fight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ass Kicking But Were Afraid You’d Get Your Ass Kicked For Asking (which is technically BANNED in the UK by its publisher Harper Collins), as well as A Long Slow Screw, and numerous articles about everything from collections thugs to Dean Martin. He also sings for OXBOW.

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Sean K
Feb 21, 2013 3:22pm

Way to go Mr Robinson. You know i still find it amazing that you can find people willing to try and fight you. i mean who are these people and what do they think is going to happen? do they think they are going to win?? you know John Fahey apparently punched out zabriskie point director Antonioni - bet he didnt see that coming!

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Feb 21, 2013 6:35pm

Well fancy that - Eugene's personality is even more unpleasant than his dismal music

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Worthless Recluse
Feb 21, 2013 6:45pm

In reply to K:

Having met and corresponded with him I can confirm he's a gent, and, I'd wager, significantly funnier and more intelligent than yourself.

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Feb 21, 2013 6:59pm

This man is a genius.

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Feb 21, 2013 7:01pm

In reply to K:

You, my friend, know nothing about anything and therefore from here on out, when the thought of speaking or expressing yourself online, instead of doing so, do not.

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Feb 21, 2013 7:29pm

*sigh* one . in . every . crowd .

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Butcher Bob
Feb 21, 2013 7:54pm

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to poke the bear. It's well documented over the past decade what will indeed happen if you provoke Eugene while he's working. And yet, as stated, there is one in every town. For a very short while, I was on that path...then realized the error of my ways. Why should anyone be shocked or eve surprised that these things play out like they do?

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Feb 21, 2013 8:41pm

Sometimes certain people need to get thumped. Plain and simple. And there are those, Mr. Robinson, those who presented A) and B) to you, who don't think there's ever reason to get physical. Never. And there's nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. And that's all well and good, everybody has a right to their opinion. But sometimes certain people gotta get thumped.

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Feb 21, 2013 10:46pm

I wish more artists showed some sort of response to instances of being shat upon by members of the audience. The saddest event in my recent concertgoing history must have been a concert by Evangelista in Budapest with about 50 people attending, 2 of which who were seated in the 1st row of the not-so-big venue were busily hacking away on their smartphones, about 3 meters away from Carla who, I believe, had tears in her eyes when she confronted them about it. Eugene, where were you that night?

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Feb 21, 2013 11:12pm

In reply to Worthless Recluse:

Oh, well If he's 'funnier and more intelligent' than me then I guess the pleasure he evidently takes in beating people smaller than him is ok

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Feb 21, 2013 11:37pm

In reply to K:

Let me guess. You're small of stature, and take no pleasure in life. You probably should not listen to Eugene's music.

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Feb 21, 2013 11:39pm

In reply to K:

I was there that night and that guy was the same hight if not higher than Mr. Robinson.That screaming guy was a complete asshole and he should give me back my money, I was there to see the show, not the drunk asshole talking. So I don't blame Eugene at all, he did what he should do.
And the show was amazing no matter what.

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Feb 21, 2013 11:42pm

Actually, no I'm wrong - or at least off target. Clearly the guy deliberately fucking up the show - for the performers and audience - is the real dick. I guess maybe there's a certain justice in such a guy learning that his bullshit does have consequences, and i can imagine the relief for the crowd having him shut the fuck up. God knows we've all suffered these ass holes. But the pride in violence / might is right stuff still seems kind of shitty - particularly fucking up some guys phone because he's enjoying the show enough to want to film it. Hmnnn...

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Feb 21, 2013 11:54pm

In reply to Max:

It's only music for big beefy happy guys? Those aren't the people I've seen watching them play...

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Feb 21, 2013 11:57pm

In reply to K:

"Delight" is less important than the fact that you can't film the opera, a play or even a movie. And I asked him to stop. Why have him experience the filming over the experiencing of the experience? Moreover his debating this with me MID-show? Makes him definitely not a friend of Art.

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Feb 21, 2013 11:59pm

On reflection the guy with the phone is pretty much being a dick too, of course. Ah, fuck knows...

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Feb 22, 2013 12:06am

In reply to K:

The guy was filming, not enjoying the show. And when the artist is telling you to switch the camera off you are doing this unless you are complete asshole.
And yes, maybe punching people is shitty but imagine how shitty it is when you are busting your butt on stage and two assholes have decided to ruined it. What would you do? How would you feel? I was watching Eugene's face and he wasn't delighted so as Jamie.

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Feb 22, 2013 12:11am

In reply to Eugene :

Ah, that's twice my clumsy additions have looked like answers to points that hadn't been made when I started typing. I was already coming round to the idea that the fault lay more with him than you - less from the filming, more for the attitude when you spoke to him. Both guys, i suppose, were getting their rocks off playing at seeking confrontation, and enjoyed it a whole lot less when that's what they got. But filming? Not my idea of the way to enjoy a show, but i've enjoyed watching the stuff that these guys do film and put up on youtube or whatever. Maybe i'd feel different if it was my show being reduced to a fuzzy 3 minute film with tinny sound, but I wonder if they're doing so much harm...

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Feb 22, 2013 12:22am

In reply to K:

A few minutes is fine. And unlikely to draw my ire. But the ENTIRE show? No. Or talk to us about it beforehand like every photographer does. But insisting it is your RIGHT? Ridiculous.

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Feb 22, 2013 12:24am

In reply to :

You're right, of course. I think perhaps I read the original article as having a crowing tone that maybe isn't really there. Or not entirely. Not sure about the bit about 'That guy' 'slurring through half consciousness'...

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Feb 22, 2013 12:29am

In reply to Eugene:

Agreed. Ridiculous. Claiming it as a 'right' I mean - and I hadn't really grasped it was the whole show, despite your stating it plainly when I look back. Hey, i'm new at this - typing impulsively I mean, not reading....

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Feb 22, 2013 1:09am

In reply to Eugene :

What is with folks who want to record and/or take a photo of everything they should be experiencing in the moment? A trip to the MMOA late last fall and i'd say 75% of the people there were walking up to each painting and clicking an image. We're in the same room and within inches of legendary paintings hundreds of years old and instead of taking it all in people are walking up, 'click', got their shot, moving to the next one, 'click', moving on to the next one. Madness. How does that Jackson Pollack which takes up half of a room at the museum look on that shite phone of yours sitting in your stank rinkydink kitchen? I just don't get it.

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Feb 22, 2013 4:29am

Haven't heard any of his music, but guy writes like a mothrafucker. Well done.

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